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Koozai > Blog > What is Backlink Relevance and Why Does It Matter?

What is Backlink Relevance and Why Does It Matter?

| 4 minutes to read

Link building remains an important tool in most effective SEO strategies. This is because high-quality backlinks from reputable websites can act as a vote of confidence in your website in the eyes of search engines, boosting your website’s authority and search ranking potential.

Traditionally, SEO professionals have relied heavily on Domain Authority (DA) as a key metric to assess the value of backlinks and link building efforts. However, the landscape is shifting, and topical relevance is now often a better predictor of link building success and SEO performance.

What is Topical Relevance for Link Building?

‘Topical relevance’ simply refers to the thematic connection between the website(s) linking to you and your own website. Simply put, a link from a website that covers similar topics to yours may carry more weight with search engines compared to a link from a completely unrelated website [leaving aside other important variables for now].

Imagine you run an online beauty store for example. A link from a national newspaper’s beauty section would likely have a better SEO impact than a link from their travel or business section.

Studies conducted in recent years suggest that topical relevance has become a more significant factor for SEO performance than factors like the sheer number of backlinks or even (sometimes) a website’s Domain Authority (DA).

All of this means that digital PR and link-building strategies need to prioritise acquiring topically relevant backlinks from the right websites. However, this topic isn’t clear cut, and it’s important to remember that DA and other factors shouldn’t be entirely disregarded either.

Topical Relevance vs Domain Authority?

Domain Authority is a metric from Moz which provides an indication [on a scale of 1-100] of a website’s authority in search engines like Google. There are other similar metrics offered by platforms like SEMrush, MajesticSEO and Ahrefs. While topical relevance these metrics still hold value in link building. Here’s why:

  • Topical Relevance Alone Isn’t Enough: A link from a topically relevant website may be ideal, but if the website is spammy and has a low DA, it likely won’t offer much SEO benefit.
  • Domain Authority Matters (But It’s Not Perfect): DA is a third-party metric not directly endorsed by Google, and it’s not infallible. Some websites with high DA scores might be riddled with spam and offer minimal SEO value upon closer inspection. However, DA can still provide a useful indication of authority and quality, especially when analysing your backlink profile at scale.

The takeaway? Ensure you target both high-quality and topically relevant websites for links, and use judgement in collaboration with metrics like Domain Authority to assess this.

Topical Relevance and Backlink Quantity

There’s a growing consensus among SEOs and digital marketers that the quality and relevance of backlinks often outweighs the sheer quantity of backlinks for SEO performance. So called link-building companies can use old school tactics and paid partnerships to generate spammy links, which are often ignored by Google, and in rare circumstances could even negatively impact your website.

However, it’s still wise to aim for a decent number of high-quality, relevant backlinks. But avoid setting unrealistic link-building targets that might incentivise acquiring low-quality links.

How Can I Measure Backlink Relevancy?

Unfortunately, there’s a lack of tools offering in-depths insights on topical relevance. Tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, and Majestic SEO do categorise backlinks by broad topics (e.g. lifestyle, technology, arts, business, etc.), however this might not always be helpful for websites operating in niche industries. In such cases, manually categorising backlinks or carrying out a manual backlink analysis [e.g. using spreadsheets exported from these tools] may be necessary to gain deeper insights.

It’s also important to note that existing tools often can’t determine the exact detailed topic of a specific article, offering a limited view of topical relevance.

How Do I Get Relevant Backlinks?

The emphasis on topical relevance should mean a shift in how digital PR and link-building professionals approach outreach strategies. There are many things to consider when it comes to getting relevant backlinks, however here are two of the most important tips:

  • Re-Evaluate Your Media Outreach Lists: Ensure your media lists prioritise websites relevant to your niche and include the most influential publications and thought leaders within your industry.
  • Adapt Outreach Tactics: Craft PR stories aligned with relevant topics that resonate with your newly refined media lists. Imagine a PR campaign – stories would need to be adapted to ensure topical relevance while still appealing to the updated media targets.

Read More: What is digital PR? A beginner’s guide to backlinks and PR for SEO

The Bottom Line on ‘Topical Relevance’ and Link Building

Topical relevance is important for link building and Digital PR or link-building campaigns need to be adapted to better consider topical relevance for greater SEO success. This means a move away from campaigns focused on acquiring large numbers of low-quality links.

However, DA and website quality assessment should still be part of the equation. Remember, link building is just one piece of the SEO puzzle. High-quality content and strong technical SEO practices are equally crucial for sustained SEO performance.

Topical relevance also plays a vital role in content strategy. Consider using landing pages and blog posts on your website to create “topical clusters” of quality content around themes relevant to your products, services, and target audiences. This approach helps signal your website’s authority and topical relevance to search engines.

Introducing Topically Relevant Digital PR and Link Building Campaigns

Koozai’s experienced digital PR team excels at securing topically relevant and authoritative backlinks for our clients. Our campaigns are bolstered by the expertise of our technical SEO team and the creation of topically relevant content – all working together to deliver exceptional SEO results.

To learn more about or discuss topically relevant digital PR campaigns for your business, please get in touch with us to find out more..

David Wilson

Head of PR & Content

Our Head of PR & Content, David has spent over 12 years working in the discipline for brands such as Saga, BuyaGift, Barratt Homes, and Fitness First. He has devised and managed hundreds of successful campaigns. Whether your goal is to improve your backlink profile or boost brand awareness, David is your man. He’ll create a strategy that increases your traffic, improves your rankings, and provides conversions. Be those sales or leads.

David Wilson Read more about David Wilson

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